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Alabama infectious disease expert Jeanne Marrazzo tapped to replace Fauci

Federal health officials announced Wednesday that Jeanne Marrazzo, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, will become the new head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) beginning this fall.

The announcement comes about eight months after previous NIAID Director Anthony Fauci stepped down after serving for nearly 40 years.

Marrazzo will start her job overseeing the $6.3 billion agency just as Congress begins working through the 2024 budget and as some Republicans are eyeing sharp funding cuts across the board.

NIAID supports research at universities and research organizations around the United States and across its 21 laboratories.

Like Fauci, Marrazzo has a background in HIV research, focused on sexually transmitted diseases, as well as female reproductive tract infections and hormonal contraception. 

“Dr. Marrazzo brings a wealth of leadership experience from leading international clinical trials and translational research, managing a complex organizational budget that includes research funding and mentoring trainees in all stages of professional development,” acting National Institutes of Health Director Lawrence Tabak said in a statement. 

Unlike Tabak’s permanent replacement, Monica Bertagnolli, Marrazzo does not need Senate confirmation. Bertagnolli’s nomination has been held up in the Senate as health committee chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) refuses to hold a hearing for her until the White House commits to stronger action to lower drug prices. 

According to a statement from the agency, NIAID has a mandate to respond to emerging and reemerging public health threats at home and abroad and the NIAID research response to diseases like HIV, Ebola and COVID-19 has led to new therapies, vaccines, diagnostic tests and other technologies.

Marrazzo is likely to face questions from GOP members of the House and Senate as part of their investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic because NIAID funding for risky pathogen research has come under scrutiny.

Source: The Hill

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